Italy ordered all but the most essential businesses to close until April 3, tightening a lockdown against the coronavirus, after nearly 800 people died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, on Saturday.
“Only production activities deemed vital for national production will be allowed,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a video posted to Facebook, but did not go into detail on the proposals to come into force via emergency decree on Sunday.
Italy recorded 793 deaths on Saturday, with France and Spain and Germany also reporting steep rises in confirmed cases and fatalities.
Nearly 13,000 people around the world have now died from the disease, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the US. More than 304,500 people have been diagnosed with the infection, while nearly 92,000 have recovered.
I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur with Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are all the latest updates:
Sunday, March 22
04:00 GMT – US Vice President tests negative for coronavirus
The office of US Vice President Mike Pence says he and his wife have tested negative for the coronavirus.
The couple took the test after one of Pence’s staff was diagnosed with the virus.
03:50 GMT – Singapore closes to short-term visitors and transit passengers
Singapore has decided to close its borders to all short-term visitors given the “heightened risk” of coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health says the measures are necessary because 80 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past three days came from overseas.
The country will also stop transit through Singapore.
The measures come into effect from 23 March at 11:59pm local time (15:59 GMT).
03:10 GMT – Scepticism as North Korea claims no cases
North Korea watchers are expressing scepticism – and some alarm – about the government’s claim that the country is coronavirus-free.
Sources have informed them of a number of cases, and they worry that if it begins to spread within the wider community, the consequences would be devastating.
Al Jazeera’s Kelly Kasulis has the story.
03:00 GMT – Turkey confirmed cases rise, partial curfew for vulnerable
Turkey’s confirmed cases of coronavirus rose to 947, and the number of dead to 21 the health minister said on Saturday.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said some 2,953 tests had been conducted in the previous 24 hours.
The country is also planning a partial curfew on for citizens over the age of 65 and those with chronic diseases. The interior ministry is expected to announce more details later.
02:50 GMT – Cases rise in the Philippines
The Philippines has reported 73 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 380, the health ministry said on Sunday.
It also announced six more deaths related to coronavirus, bringing total fatalities to 25.
Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire told DZBB radio that the increase in confirmed cases could be “artificial” because the government is catching up on a backlog of tests
02:40 GMT – India in 14-hour curfew to limit virus spread
India is about an hour into a 14-hour curfew as part of its attempts to curb the spread of the virus.
All citizens have been told to stay indoors from 01:30 to 15:30 GMT.
“Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against the COVID-19 menace,” Modi tweeted minutes before the curfew commenced.
In a few minutes from now, the #JantaCurfew commences.
Let us all be a part of this curfew, which will add tremendous strength to the fight against COVID-19 menace. The steps we take now will help in the times to come.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 22, 2020
01:30 GMT – South Korea reports 98 new cases of coronavirus
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 98 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the national total to 8,897.
01:20 GMT – Wuhan reports fourth day with no new cases
Wuhan, where the coronavirus first emerged late last year, said it had no new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, marking the fourth straight day without a new infection.
China reported 46 new confirmed cases, all but one of them imported from overseas.
It also said six more people died from COVID-19.
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 22, 2020
01:00 GMT – Australia to consider ‘draconian measures’ to enforce social distancing
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said states and territories would consider draconian measures to enforce social distancing after thousands of people thronged the country’s beaches amid unusually warm weather.
Most of Sydney’s main beaches, including Bondi Beach, were closed on Sunday.
“The measures that we will be considering tonight means that state premiers and chief ministers may have to take far more draconian measures to enforce social distancing,” Morrison said in Canberra.
00:15 GMT – Conte says Italy will further tighten lockdown to tackle virus
Italy has ordered all but the most essential businesses to close until April 3.
“It is the most difficult crisis in our post-war period,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a video posted on Facebook, adding “only production activities deemed vital for national production will be allowed.”
Conte did not go into detail on which businesses would have to close under the order which is expected to come into effect through an emergency decree on Sunday.
Supermarkets, pharmacies, postal and banking services will remain open and essential public services, including transport, will be ensured.
“We are slowing down the country’s production engine, but we are not stopping it,” Conte said.
00:00 GMT – UK urges more vulnerable to ‘stay at home’
Some 1.5 million people identified by the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus are being urged to stay at home to protect themselves.
The people include those who have received organ transplants, those living with severe respiratory conditions or specific cancers, and some receiving certain types of drug treatments.
They will be contacted by their doctor and strongly advised to stay at home for a period of at least 12 weeks.
Read all the latest updates from yesterday (March 21) here.